For: Brandcenter Student Project Fall 2020
Duration: 8 weeks
Role: Strategy, Brand Identity, UX/UI, Prototyping
Tools: Figma, Photoshop, Illustrator, SketchUp
Team: Ryan Shih (self)
Design, from the ground up, the design system and branding for a business of your choosing, building out the digital and physical experiences of the store.
How can a brand that exists in a fairly saturated market stand out? How can design effectively improve aspects of the bakery shopping experience, especially with the new challenges that the pandemic has highlighted?
A combination digital + physical solution that simplifies online ordering, with a physical space that is specifically designed to streamline takeout experience.
Food trends come and go. However, there's a distinction between trends that fade and trends that stick and become part of a community food culture, and it's the cultural background and relevancy of distinct products that gives trendy food longevity. Tapping into my own Taiwanese-American heritage, I wanted to create a brand that not only tapped into this idea of long-lasting trends, but also bring a popular Asian treat to a new American market.
And, for those of you that don't know what Castella is, it's this delicious light sponge cake that can be combined with so many other ingredients.
The driving insight behind Castella's conception was the need for a product/category to transcend being a trend. The solution was actually pretty simple, summed up by the thesis statement:
A little more specifically, by not only doing the initial "trendy" food well, but by improving other aspects of core bakery business, Castella can establish itself as a unique brand among competitors.
The takeout process can be confusing, and so the driving opportunity with the digital interface and physical space is to get rid of clutter and simplifying the process by making decisions for the user.
To do so, I wanted to map out the most important milestones of the user journey both digital and physical, and see how the overall process could be improved:
Through this, it was clear that certain touchpoints of the process would drive the design.
For first time users, the first question always asked is "what do you recommend?" And for experienced consumers, this is typically a secondary question, along with "what's new?". The focus on the home page is on getting users that information, so that they aren't left asking that question later or worse, regretting their purchase
A larger-than-needed product picture sells the cake/bread, as the largest selling point of buying baked goods is what it looks like, if you can't smell it.
The most important parts to checking out are streamlined in order of importance. No additional ads, no "this pairs well", imparting a sense that the user already knows what they want.
After ordering the food, you have to actually pick it up... and that's a whole ordeal in of itself. The biggest challenge people face is not knowing how and where they actually pick up their order.
The opportunity for baked goods is that it doesn't necessarily need fancy equipment or space, there just needs to be a designated pickup space. This means a potential store design could directly integrate takeout into the physical building to allow for ease of access.
The concept revolves around transparent shelves specifically built into the storefront, drawing inspiration from Amazon Go boxes that are easily accessible. The transparency is two fold:
1. Confirming contents of order
2. Being able to see what others have ordered for pickup
In determining what Castella looks like, the brand adheres to three specific principles:
Baking is a precise science, with exact measurements and skills needed to craft delicious goods. Castella aims to inhabit the spirit of a Shokunin, one that strives to work its chosen craft to its utmost requirement with clarity.
In almost a contradiction to precision, baked goods and foods are organic forms and geometries that do not precisely turn and grow. Baking is soft, round in nature and should be reflected as such.
Castella should be able to evoke this feeling of comfort and warmth. Baking is an art that contributes to the wellness and contentment of individuals, and should reflect the emotion brought through quality.
These three principles can be best shown in the logo, with:
- Rounded corners and edges
- Orthagonal, ninety-degree turns
- Sharp endings for continuity
The typography and color choices also reflect this brand ethos, echoing design choices made in the logo.
As a very first project in grad school, in a non-architecture design setting there were certainly some growing pains that I didn't expect. It was a very welcome surprise though, and this project was incredibly rewarding and inspiring, making me very excited to jump head first into experience design and UX/UI.
A big thank you to Andrew Levasseur, professor at Brandcenter for being a great resource for feedback and critique!